The recent election reminded me of a brush that I had with election-related appeals. A few years ago, I fervently drafted a brief in a primary-contest appeal under a looming deadline. As I neared completion, my pregnant wife called to inform me that she was in labor. No problem, right? I’ll get the deadline extended. As my partner (who was scheduled to celebrate his wedding anniversary on a relaxing getaway and instead had to help finalize the brief) can attest, however, contesting election results present some unique considerations and can lead to their own demanding and inflexible deadlines.
For example, contesting an election’s result requires some preparation and may necessitate truncated deadlines that would be atypical in a normal appeal. The Texas Election Code allows for accelerated appeals of both primary contests and general elections. Among other things, the Code and the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure mandate that election appeals receive precedence. The Code also allows for issuing reasonable and appropriate orders to expedite the appeal like reducing the time allowed for briefing. Further, primary-contest appeals contain an inherent deadline. They can become moot when absentee balloting has begun or when the case is not properly resolved in time for election officials to comply with statutory deadlines for holding the general election. For the uninitiated appellate attorney, this means that the first step is researching how election contests are appealed and determining when the contest becomes moot.
The second step is utilizing election-contest related law to avoid the case becoming moot. While the law allows for expediting these appeals, it doesn’t hurt to remind the appellate court how it should treat these matters. For example, as we did in our case, it also doesn’t hurt to file a motion asking the appellate court to afford the case precedence and requesting any other necessary, and authorized, relief like shortening the briefing deadlines.
In the end, we timely filed the brief and my world was awash in a newfound joy. I can’t speak for my partner, however.
Image courtesy of Flickr by Miran Rijavec.